Abdominal thrusts, also called the Heimlich manoeuvre or Heimlich maneuver, is a first aid procedure used to treat upper airway obstructions (or choking) by foreign objects. The term Heimlich maneuver is named after Dr. Henry Heimlich, who first described it in 1974.
- The person can not speak or cry out.
- The person’s face turns blue from lack of oxygen.
- The person desperately grabs at his or her throat.
- The person has a weak cough, and labored breathing produces a high-pitched noise.
- The person does all of the above, then becomes unconscious.
Heimlich maneuver is just a simple action that will most of the time dislodge food or foreign object from a person’s airway when they are CHOKING. The abdominal thrusts lift the diaphragm and force enough air from the lungs. Forceful air from the lungs creates an artificial cough. The cough is intended to move and expel an obstructing foreign body in an airway. It provides an increase pressure in the abdomen, thus, enabling the object to be expelled out of the airway.
- Get the choking person in a standing position. However, it can also be performed in a sitting position if the victim is too heavy for the rescuer or if the set-up is in a confined space such as a plane. The rescuer should see to it that there will be plenty of room to perform the moves.
- Place yourself slightly behind the standing victim.
- Reassure the victim immediately that you know the Heimlich maneuver and are going to help him or her.
- From behind, wrap your arms around the victim’s abdomen. Stand with your legs separated, to form a “tripod” shape in the event the victim faints or becomes unconscious (this will help you to catch them and stabilize their fall quickly).
- Make a fist with your dominant hand with the thumb of this fist pointing to the fist.
- Place the fist below the ribcage and above the navel.
- Wrap your other hand firmly around this fist. Be sure to keep your thumb away from the victim’s body, to prevent injury to the victim.
- Perform the abdominal thrusts (Heimlich Maneuver) by pulling inward and upward while pressing into the victim’s abdomen with quick upward thrusts using a good force. The motion should be similar to that of the letter “J” – in, then up.
- Perform 5 abdominal thrusts in quick succession. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands. Repeat until object is expelled.